A WARNING AGAINST THE SIN OF SELF-EXALTATION

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[Deuteronomy:9:1-29]; [Deuteronomy:10:1-22].

Lesson No.: 
124
Class: 
Junior
Memory Verse: 

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

Notes: 

A Review of Wanderings
In the Book of Deuteronomy Moses reviews before the Israelites all that has happened to them through the forty years since they left Egypt. Their parents have died, and the new generation is about ready to enter Canaan.

Moses promised great victories ahead. There were giants in the land, fighting men, who would require more than Israel’s comparatively small army to conquer. How then could Israel win? God was going to help them. He was going to destroy the Canaanites before them as quickly as a fire licks up dry grass. Moses warned the Israelites that they must not forget that God was winning their battles for them.

Why was God so good to the Israelites that He would lead their armies to victory? It certainly was not be-cause they had been good and deserved His reward. But God had made a promise to their forefathers to give them the land, and His promises do not fail.

Moses wanted the Israelites to realise that they had not behaved very well; he asked them to remember some of their disobediences since they had left Egypt. What about that time at Mount Horeb while Moses was in the mountain receiving from God the Law on tables of stone? Just before that, they heard the voice of God speak to them from Heaven amid thunderings and fire; and they had promised that all God commanded they would do. Yet a few days later they had already forgotten the God whose supernatural voice they had heard when they could see no one, and they had made a golden calf to worship. Even if they did not know that God was the Creator of the earth and the heavens and all the living creatures, they still should have believed in Him be-cause of the miracles He had wrought in bringing them out of Egypt. With their own eyes they had seen the frogs overrun the Egyptians; and the lice; and the flies; and the water turned to blood. And with their own ears they had heard God speak. And yet in their imagination God was nothing more than a golden calf!

God had told Moses at that time to step aside and let Him destroy that ungrateful, unbelieving congregation. But Moses prayed for them, and God gave them a chance to repent. One would think that they would have been very careful from then on not to displease God, but soon they forgot and sinned again.

We have recorded two instances when the Children of Israel murmured for water, and they wanted to return to Egypt. Another time they murmured for meat. God gave it to them –- and they were such gluttons that many of them died. And when they had come to the borders of Canaan and could have gone into their rest, they were afraid and turned and ran.

Mercy
Moses reminded the Israelites of all these sins to show them that it was nothing good that they had done that had earned them this grand prize of an inheritance in Canaan. He wanted to show them too, how much love and mercy God had toward them, to teach them to treat other people with mercy. God was not destroying the nations of Canaan because He hated them but because they had sinned. Anyone who comes to Jesus in repentance can find favour with God. “There is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts” (II Chronicles:19:7). God cannot be bribed with gifts or with pretty promises. He looks at the heart and honours godly sorrow for sin, and repentance. We learned in a recent lesson that God had given the Amorites four hundred years to repent, and waited to execute judgment upon them until their “iniquity was full.”

Saved by Faith
We cannot work our way into Heaven. The works of our hands will not find favour in the sight of God if our hearts are not washed clean by the Blood of Jesus. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” ([Ephesians:2:8-9]). After we are saved, the good deeds we do will show that our hearts are right with God. It was the Blood of Jesus that washed our sins away. No matter how hard we tried in our own strength to make ourselves righteous, our self-righteousness is as “filthy rags” in the sight of God.

Jesus told of a people who would come to Him in the judgment and would say, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?” They were boasting about how much they had done for the Lord. But what was His answer? “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew:7:22, 23). What was the matter with their works? They did not have the love of Jesus in their hearts, and they were proud of the works.

Jesus said there would be other people, too, who had served Him faithfully in love. When He rewarded them for their good works, they would ask, “When saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave the drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?” These people were not boasting of their works; in fact, they had forgotten them. Jesus’ answer to them was, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew:25:37-40). It was not the work they had done for great people who might do something for them in return, or who might praise them; but it was done for the lowly -- a work which perhaps no one had seen but Jesus and the one for whom it was done.

The Humble Exalted
Jesus said, “Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalt-ed” (Matthew:23:12). Even some of the disciples who followed Jesus were troubled with pride. One day James and John asked Him if they might have the best positions when Jesus set up His Kingdom. One wanted to sit at His right hand and one at His left. Jesus told them that the rewards would be for faithful service, and were prepared in Heaven.

Another time there was arguing among the disciples about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of God, and Jesus told them, “He that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve” (Luke:22:26). He said that among the Gentiles the kings and the people in authority were looked up to and were called their benefactors; but He Himself (the greatest Benefactor) was as a servant among them. That last night before Jesus died, when He instituted the Lord’s Supper, He served them, and washed their feet; and He said His people would be happy if they did likewise. Morse than that, He promised that at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, when the rewards are given to the full overcomers, Jesus will come forth and serve His people.

Let us consider what humility has done for some people. Many years after the Israelites had gone to live in Canaan they grew tired of God’s rules and wanted to have a king like the other nations had. God was dis-pleased with their desires, but He let them have their way and told the Prophet Samuel to anoint Saul, who was but a herdsman at that time, to be the king of Israel. Saul said to Samuel, “Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? And my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Wherefore then speakest thou so to me?” (I Samuel:9:21). And he became the king! After he became king, however, he be-came haughty and did not obey God. When Samuel brought the news of his rejection to him, this Prophet said: “When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?” (I Samuel:15:17). What had happened in the meantime? Saul had become proud and thought his ways were better than God’s, and his condemnation was: “Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king” (I Samuel:15:23).

God chose humble people for His great work, and as long as they walked humbly He gave them great blessings; but when they became proud he had to put them down, because pride is an abomination in the sight of God. When God called Solomon to be king, Solomon prayed: “And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in” (I Kings:3:7). You know what God did for him. He made Solomon the wisest man in all the world. And he also gave him very great riches, until the kingdom of Solomon was more splendid than any that had been before. People came from countries far away to see all the wealth and beautiful things that Solomon had. But when Solomon forgot that all his wisdom and wealth came from God, his kingdom was taken from him.

Reminder
Moses warned the Israelites that after all their enemies were conquered they must not forget that God had given them the victory. Moses told them that there would be a great abundance of food in Canaan for them, and added: “When thou shalt have eaten and be full; then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage” (Deuteronomy:6:11, 12).

The Children of Israel did not heed his words. Many years later Isaiah wrote: “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. . . . they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward” (Isaiah:1:3, 4).

Jesus will help us to be humble and be ready for Heaven if we want to be. “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James:4:6, 7).

Questions: 

1. What is the Book of Deuteronomy?
2. Of what does Moses remind the Israelites in today’s lesson?
3. Whom were they going to have to fight in Canaan?
4. How would they win?
5. What does God say about the proud?
6. What does He say about the humble?
7. What position did Jesus say He took among His disciples?